A penetrating study of ordinary people resisting the Nazi occupation - and, true to its title, a dark comedy of wartime manners - Comedy in a Minor Key tells the story of Wim and Marie, a Dutch couple who first hide a Jew they know as Nico, then must dispose of his body when he dies of pneumonia.
This novella, first published in 1947 and now translated into English for the first time, shows Hans Keilson at his best: deeply ironic, penetrating, sympathetic, and brilliantly modern, an heir to Joseph Roth and Franz Kafka. In 2008, when Keilson received Germany’s prestigious Welt Literature Prize, the citation praised his work for exploring “the destructive impulse at work in the twentieth century, down to its deepest psychological and spiritual ramifications.”
Published to celebrate Keilson’s hundredth birthday, Comedy in a Minor Key - and The Death of the Adversary, reissued in paperback - will introduce American readers and listeners to a forgotten classic author, a witness to World War II, and a sophisticated storyteller whose books remain as fresh as when they first came to light.
©1947 Hans Keilson, Translation copyright 2010 by Damion Searls (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
“For busy, harried or distractible readers who have the time and energy only to skim the opening paragraph of a review, I’ll say this as quickly and clearly as possible: The Death of the Adversary and Comedy in a Minor Key are masterpieces, and Hans Keilson is a genius." (Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review)
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How many stories have I read in my life about good, well-meaning people who helped Jews hide during WW2? An innumerable amount! and yet, I never thought about what could or would happen if one of them died while hidden! What do you do? How do you get rid of the body in secret? Is it dangerous? I NEVER considered any of this, yet it must have happened countless times!
I am glad I came across this short story; it was a very interesting (albeit ironically tragic) book.
The subject of the the Jews and WW2 is not easy to handle lightly. Yet I learned so much about people and their lives, at that time, without the sick feeling I usually get when reading about the Holocaust.
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